Diamond Peak, Oregon
Take the wilderness route to a Cascade volcano.
Anywhere else, Diamond Peak would be an epicenter for summit-hungry hikers. Not here. The 8,744-foot beauty, in central Oregon, is overshadowed by the Three Sisters and Mt. Thielsen–to say nothing of bigger volcanoes like Mt. Hood and Mt. Shasta–making it a remarkably easy place to escape the crowds. Dayhikers can climb the nontechnical peak from the west, but backpackers will find quiet trails and peaceful lakeside campsites along the 27-mile loop that begins at Odell Lake, just east of Willamette Pass.
Head south along Trapper Creek, then west on the Crater Butte Trail to a camp near Marie Lake. From there, take the Pacific Crest Trail just north to the foot of the peak, drop your pack, and follow cairns and climbers’ paths up the 2,000-foot south spur’s pink and gray volcanic scree. You won’t find glaciers, but snow lingers well into July and the final ridge can be a frozen knife-edge (easily avoided on scree to one side). From the top, white-capped peaks to the north and south float like distant sails above a green sea. Return to the PCT and continue north to a short side trail that leads to campsites near Divide Lake. From here, experienced scramblers can bag 7,100-foot Mt. Yoran. Tip: Plan a late-season visit to avoid the area’s notorious mosquitoes.
Maps USGS topos Willamette, Diamond Peak, and Emigrant Butte
Permits Free permit available at trailheads; Northwest Forest Pass for parking